Embracing Cancer and Finding the Joy

Tamera Anderson-Hanna

If I picture it, I can still hear the words, "you have cancer" and recall the fear associated with the diagnosis. The words, "what if" quickly followed, and after being concerned about my children, my thoughts were of all the things I might not get to experience or would miss if my time was limited. Any thought about the future was initially difficult to manage, but I soon realized I was not going to waste any time I had left and made it a mission to enjoy life with greater depth. As I reflect and am now cancer-free, I embrace the memory of the diagnosis to remind me to live and never stop enjoying the everyday joys of life. My fear is now taking life for granted.

I was speaking with one of my yoga teachers in late 2017 as we are planning a potential retreat for cancer survivors at some point in 2018. She reminded me of the importance of helping others find the joys of life, even after being cancer-free. Sometimes we focus on how our body looks. For others, it might be finding joy in the car they drive or the home they buy. Sure, things can bring joy, but what are the accomplishments and memories that we will embrace when we no longer have time left to make new ones? Will it really be a car or house we find most satisfying? Maybe we learn about or explore deeper joy after a cancer diagnosis. It has to do with embracing how we want to be remembered, the relationships we form and the memories we create on our path of living.

As I embrace 2018 and go on my third year after being diagnosed, I want to embrace the diagnosis. I want to remember the joys that I don't want to miss out on them. These might be as simple as the fresh smell of a rain storm, the warmth of a sunrise or the awe of the reflection of a sunset, and most certainly spending time with individuals I care about. It is my thought that whether you have an active diagnosis of cancer or you are in remission, maybe remembering the diagnosis can be a way to remind us of the things we truly value and want to embrace in life. A motto I am carrying into 2018 is, "new adventures." Maybe it is trying a new restaurant, a new sport or visiting a new travel destination, but I encourage us all to embrace the joy of life while we still have it. I will close with four questions that might help.

Can I tell someone this week how much they mean to me?
How can I embrace something in my daily schedule without taking it for granted?
Am I acting in a manner today or this week that is consistent with the way I want to be remembered?
Is there something I can do today or this week that I have never tried?
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